Sharks Lose to Lightning 5-2 in Tampa Bay

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) is knocked down by Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

by M. Walsh

The San Jose Sharks dropped the third game of this road trip to the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 5-2. Two Lightning goals were scored by Tyler Johnson, two more by Nikita Kucherov and another by Cory Conacher. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 stops in the game. Sharks’ goals were scored by Barclay Goodrow, who had just returned from injury, and Justin Braun. Martin Jones stopped 38 shots for the Sharks.

The loss was a modest improvement over their previous loss to Tampa Bay, a 5-1 loss in San Jose on November 8, but it ended a four-game winning streak for San Jose in Tampa Bay. The Lightning continue to dominate in the NHL standings, maintaining a slim lead over the Winnipeg Jets. Entering Saturday’s game, they had a record of 17-6-2. On the other hand, half of those losses came in their last four games.

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer saw few bright spots in his team’s game. DeBoer said: “The good news was that our goalie was outstanding, he was by far our best player. He gave a us a chance going into the third to get some points tonight. But we didn’t have enough contributions. We would have needed 20 guys tonight plus Jonesy’s effort. They’re a desperate team and rested, and we didn’t help ourselves.”

Beyond that, DeBoer seemed willing to put the loss behind him and move on. DeBoer said: “We’re not going to be down here in a back-to-back with half our team out again so we don’t have to worry about that.”

Sharks forward Logan Couture expressed disappointment with the loss. Couture said: “They out played us again. You know, you can say we’re on a back-to-back and all, I know that but still got to show up and put forth a better effort than we did tonight.”

Later, Couture acknowledged that the team really is in a tough spot with injuries. Couture said: “You know, we’ve been playing good hockey. This is back-to-back, we got a bunch of guys go down within a few game period. It’s tough. You miss three forwards who usually play in your top nine, so other guys gotta step up and gotta find a way to be competitive.”

The Sharks’ injury list changed overnight between Florida games. Goodrow returned from injured reserve and Jones was ready to start. Joonas Donskoi and Tim Heed were placed on injured reserve, while Marcus Sorensen was called up from the AHL’s Barracuda. Sorensen did not play Saturday, but will be available Monday.

Both Heed and Donskoi’s IR status was retroactive to the last game they played. For Heed, that was November 25, and for Donskoi it was November 28.

Additionally, Melker Karlsson was not available after being injured Friday. Kevin Labanc was back in the lineup and got credit for four shots on goal, more than any other Shark Saturday.

San Jose did hang in there for the first two periods, but in the third, the Lightning took the Sharks apart. The Sharks scored first, the only goal of the first period. With just over three minutes left in the period, Ryan Carpenter made a cross-ice pass to Daniel O’Regan as he skated down the right side. O’Regan took the shot and the rebound went right to Goodrow on the left side. He had an open net from that angle and he put it away. Assists went to Carpenter and O’Regan.

The Sharks went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead, but had been outshot 15-8 by Tampa Bay.

The Lightning’s first period effort paid off early in the second period, as Nikita Kucherov tied the game up just 27 seconds in. Ondrej Palat carried the puck in and the Sharks defense set up to prevent a cross-ice pass to Kucherov. In doing so, they left their goaltender to handle any shot from Palat. Instead of shooting, Palat took the pass and it made it through three defenders to Kucherov, who had Martin Jones moving across and not quite ready to stop his shot. Assists went to Palat and Brayden Point.

The Lightning again outshot the Sharks in the second period, this time 16-8.

Joe Thornton was called for high sticking Tyler Johnson at the end of the second period. The Lightning started the third period with 1:56 of power play time. At 1:39 of the third, Johnson scored a power play goal to give the Lightning the 2-1 lead. Palat shot the puck into the zone so that it came off the back boards while Johnson skated in and caught it right in front of Jones. Assists went to Palat and Mikhail Sergachev.

Johnson scored again after Victor Hedman got a breakaway and would have scored had Brenden Dillon not caught the puck on the goal line. As he cleared it from the crease, Johnson was coming in fast and the puck came right to him. He put it back in over Jones.

Cory Conacher scored at 11:01, after a shoot in from Dan Girardi caught Justin Braun inside the knee. Seeing the defenseman drop to the ice, Conacher skated by him and caught a cross-ice pass from Alex Killorn. His shot went over Jones’ left shoulder as the goaltender came across to follow the puck. Assists went to Killorn and Yanni Gourde.

Braun did not stay down for long, and returned to stop the bleeding at 13:37. Braun caught the puck after an offensive zone faceoff. His blue line shot went cleanly through five skaters to beat Vasilevski on the glove side. An assist went to O’Regan.

Nikita Kucherov came back with a fifth goal at 15:37 off a breakaway after Logan Couture tried to shoot the puck in from the blue line and it his Kucherov instead. The bounce gave Kucherov the head start he needed.

The Sharks next play on Monday in Washington DC against the Capitals at 4 pm PT.

Lightning Strike Early And Often, Beat Sharks 4-3

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: AP of Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov skates as he scored twice aginast San Jose Saturday night

SAN JOSE: The San Jose Sharks finally scored a power play goal at home. They scored three, but lost 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Tampa Bay’s 20th place penalty kill probably jumped up a couple of ranking spots after killing seven penalties on Saturday night. Or maybe not, since they also gave up three power play goals. The first one was to Matt Tennyson, who broke the cursed power play scoring drought for the Sharks. The second went to Joel Ward, and the third to Brent Burns.

Al Stalock made 16 saves on 20 shots for the Sharks, while Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop made 24 saves on 26 shots before leaving the game with an injury. His replacement, Andrei Vasilevskiy made seven saves on eight shots. Tampa Bay goals were scored by Eric Condra, Nikita Kucherov (two) and Brian Boyle. There were some bright spots in the Sharks’ game, but not enough.

Tampa Bay wasted no time getting the scoring started. Just 2:19 into the game, Nikita Kucherov was able to skate through the slot, avoiding one Sharks defender and using the other as a screen, to put a shot right under Stalock. An assist went to defenseman Victor Hedman.

Near the halfway mark, Joe Pavelski was called for high sticking. Really, the infraction occurred as much as a minute before the time of the penalty, as Tampa Bay tried to make something of the delayed call, skating at length with their net empty. Despite their efforts, they were unable to launch an attack until the power play was under way. Even then, they only recorded one shot with the man advantage.

It was not until after that power play expired that the Lightning struck again, this time with a pass from the wall, near or below the goal line, that seemed to bounce off of a well-placed stick in front of the blue paint. The goal went to Eric Condra, with assists to Andrej Sustr and J.T. Brown.

The Sharks drew a hooking call with 3:27 left in the period. Brian Boyle was the culprit. The Sharks had some difficulty getting their power play in order, and Tampa Bay’s penalty killers were aggressive.

Karlsson, Donskoi, Hertl, Braun and Martin took the ice with less than 30 seconds left in the penalty. The first power play unit was made up of Thornton, Pavelski, Ward, Marleau and Burns. The power play expired and the Sharks went into the first intermission down by 2-0. The Sharks were also trailing on the shot clock, with just four to Tampa Bay’s six.

The Lightning took another penalty, this time for too many men on the ice, but Tommy Wingels was called bout 30 seconds later for goaltender interference.

During the four on four time that followed, the Sharks kept the Lightning hemmed in their zone, and put a few shots on net to boot.

Around the seven minute mark of the second, the Lightning overwhelmed the Sharks’ fourth line of Chris Tierney, Dainius Zubrus and Mike Brown. The Lightning did not score, but the Sharks were trapped in their zone for too long.

The Sharks had another try on the power play at 9:20, when Braydon Coburn was called for holding. Tommy Wingels drew that call. The Sharks recorded a few shots during the power play but did not get anything past Bishop.

At 12:55, the Sharks seemed to have scored after a wild scramble, but the goal was called off as the referee lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle before the puck crossed the line.

That was followed by a holding call to Andrej Sustr, and again the bulk of the power play time was given to the top unit. They could not do anything with that time, but the second unit, if indeed that is what they are, did score. Matt Tennyson’s shot from near the point got by Bishop, with assists to Justin Braun and Tomas Hertl. The other skaters on the ice were Donskoi and Karlsson.

With just over five minutes left, Chris Tierney went to the box for tripping. The Sharks were doing a great job killing the penalty, often stopping the Lightning at the blue line. Half way through, Joel Ward was called for tripping as well, putting the Sharks down by two men for 50 seconds. The Sharks held them off for 30 of those seconds but Steven Stamkos and Kucherov took advantage of the Sharks being a little too far from their goal and found a 2 on 1 chance. A late pass from Stamkos set Kucherov up perfectly. He picked a corner over Stalock’s shoulder and gave Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead.

At the end of the second, the shots were 18-14 Sharks, the score 3-1 Lightning.

The Sharks’ belaguered power play had another shot 40 seconds into the third period, when Tomas Hertl drew a tripping call on Anton Stralman. Donskoi, Hertl and Karlsson started this one, but had no luck. The Ward-Marleau-Thornton unit came out for the second minute of the power play. No joy there either.

DeBoer put the third line out after the power play expired, with Wingels, Hertl and Nieto. They started well but Brian Boyle broke away with Brown in a two on one. Stalock stopped Brown’s shot but lost track of the puck. As it sat there behind his skate, Boyle tapped it in.

Jason Garrison went to the box next, 5:42 in, for interference. That power play started with a two on one chance for Tampa Bay. Burns and Stalock stopped them from scoring but the Sharks never gained any traction.

Victor Hedman went to the box at 8:13 for cross-checking Chris Tierney. Thirteen seconds into the power play, Brent Burns’ shot went off Joel Ward and by Bishop. Marleau was acting as a screen, and Bishop claimed there was some interference but the goal stood up after a review. Assists went to Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski.

With 11:10 left in regulation, Ben Bishop took a stick through the mask and left the game, being replaced by Andrei Vasilevskiy.

With the penalty count becoming ridiculous, Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn went to the box for boarding Brenden Dillon.

Brent Burns was clearly on a tear as he took control of the power play, caught a puck at the point, skated backwards around the Lightning zone to pick his spot, and shot it over Vasilevskiy’s shoulder from the faceoff circle.

The Sharks had a couple fo chances after that but even with an empty net they could not truly control play in the offensive zone and no more goals were scored.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday at 6:00 PT, a road game against Calgary.